MOSCOW (AP) — Russia said Monday it will launch sweeping war games drills in the country’s east that will involve forces from China — a show of increasingly close military ties between Moscow and Beijing amid tensions with the West over the Kremlin’s action in Ukraine.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that the Vostok 2022 (East 2022) exercise will be held September 1-7 in various locations in Russia’s Far East and the Sea of Japan and involve more than 50,000 troops, over 5,000 weapons units, including 140 aircraft and 60 warships.
The drills will be conducted at seven firing ranges in far eastern Russia and will engage troops from several ex-Soviet nations, China, India, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua and Syria.
The ministry said that units of Russian Airborne troops, long-range bombers and military cargo planes will take part in the drills along with other forces.
It noted as part of the maneuvers, the Russian and Chinese navies in the Sea of Japan will “practice joint action to protect sea communications, areas of marine economic activity and support for ground troops in littoral areas.”
The maneuvers reflect increasing defense ties between Moscow and Beijing, which have grown stronger since Russia sent its troops into Ukraine on February 24. China has pointedly refused to criticize Russia’s action, blaming the US and NATO for provoking Moscow, and has blasted punishing sanctions imposed on Moscow.
Russia, in turn, has strongly backed China amid the tensions with the US that followed a recent visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Speaking earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin drew parallels between US support for Ukraine and Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, charging that both were part of alleged American efforts to foment global instability.
Russia and China have held a series of joint war games in recent years, including naval drills and patrols by long-range bombers over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. Last year, Russian troops for the first time deployed to Chinese territory for joint maneuvers.
Even though Moscow and Beijing in the past rejected the possibility of forging a military alliance, Putin has said that such a prospect can’t be ruled out. He also has noted that Russia has been sharing highly sensitive military technologies with China that helped significantly bolster its defense capability.